A beautiful place I have never explored much, but wanted to for some time now, is the Eagles Nest Wilderness near Vail. There are some trails near me that enter this wilderness, but I tend to stick to other areas... and I don’t exactly know why! Haha :)
So to remedy this situation, Jon and I went for a nice & wintery hike the other week. We wanted a trail with lots of elevation gain and a hefty amount of miles. Something that would be appropriate 14er training. Jon picked the trail and we got there around 6:30am, shortly after seeing one of the biggest moose we’ve ever seen, right up close, meandering the empty and dark streets of Vail proper. Not a terrible way to start a morning!
It was still dark out when we began, which created an eerie and exciting vibe; trail illuminated by headlamps, both of us thinking a moose would lunge onto the trail at any moment. Spoiler: a moose never lunged onto the trail. In fact, we didn’t see any other animals this day, aside from birds and squirrels.
For about the first three miles, the trail was pretty snow free. And we were surprised by that! How in the world was that possible? That Vail could have no snow, yet the mountains were pretty white. The answer to this is... there is a shit ton of snow, it’s all just after that three mile mark. At which point, the snow is a minimum of one foot deep. Hi winter!
As the snow grew deeper, our hike turned into a bushwhacking and trail finding extravaganza. Lots of frozen lakes and streams, lots of creek crossings and fewer trees by the minute. We were really climbing! The weather this morning was perfect. Blue skies, warm sun and cold air. The wind was moderate; the right amount for the weather. Birds were singing and we were completely alone. It was really a lovely thing.
In fact, it’s these times in life when everything is right. The solitude and quiet and simplicity of it all. It’ll take your breath away and help you realize what are the most important things in your world.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” -Henry David Thoreau
As it turns out, the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness is an excellent and wild place if you know where to go. Big mountains, lots of snow and few people. And even though we didn’t see any wildlife, there is a lot there. Mountain lion and bobcat tracks covered the fresh snow. A good reminder that no matter how alone we feel, we are not.
I can’t wait to explore this wilderness further.